The Shops at La Cantera

Location: San Antonio, Texas
Client: The La Cantera Retail Limited Partnership: a subsidiary of General Growth Properties and The USAA Real Estate Company
Architect: Alamo Architects
Completion Date: September 2009
General Contractor: The Whiting Turner Contracting Company
Project Size: 1,400,000 SF
Project Type: Regional Shopping Center
Site Area: 154 Acres
Structural Engineer: Jaster Quintanilla
MEP Engineer: Goetting
Civil Engineer: Pape Dawson
Landscape Architect: J. Robert Anderson, FASLA
Architectural Lighting: Kaplan Partners Architectural Lighting
Building Code/Life Safety: Code Consultants, Inc.
Recognition / Awards / Publication:
  • 2007 ICSC International Design Award – Innovative Design  & Development of a New Project Over 500,000 SF
  • 2006  17th Annual Retail Traffic Magazine Superior Achievement in Design & Imaging Award for “Best New Open Air Center”
  • 2006  17th Annual Retail Traffic Magazine Superior Achievement in Design & Imaging Award for “Best of the Competition”


The Shops at La Cantera blends the visual heritage of San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country with the stylishness appropriate to a luxury retail and upscale shopping setting.  Anchored by Neiman-Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, and Macy’s, this open-air marketplace is designed to blend the shopping efficiency of a regional mall with the ease of use of a lifestyle center in a distinctive, landscape-focused environment.  Created as a prototype for future development of regional scale outdoor centers, the design addresses both environmental concerns about land use and nature conservancy, and changes in shopping patterns that have evolved over the last decade.  Overall planning for the center was developed with the goal of preserving as much natural landscape as practical. Site edges were preserved largely as found in the wild, an approach that provides a greenbelt buffer to the adjacent freeway and creates a sense of transition into the site from the feeder roads.

The shopping center itself was oriented to step down the grade naturally in a series of buildings clustered around an ever-changing linear series of courtyards, paseos and gardens.  Shaded seated areas and a year-round blooming landscape provide places to rest, relax and refuel for more shopping.  Leading the way as an example of large-scale retail development that works with the natural landscape, the overall design expands its environmental responses to include saving and relocating existing major trees and an emphasis on xeriscaping and selection of hardy, low-water foundation plantings throughout the project, which naturally focuses on native plants found in the region.